In this video, find out everything you need to know about Loafers. What constitutes a loafer, its different variations, how to style and when best to wear them. We discuss the Penny Loafer, Gucci or Horsebit Loafer, slip-ons and slippers, why they are technically not a loafer, weejuns, Alden, Tassels and more.
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Let me explain what a loafer is. In casual situations, a loafer can substitute any other shoe that you have may it be a canvas shoe or like a sandal or whatever.
A loafer is:
- a laceless shoe
- it has an exposed ankle
- it has a moccasin like welt or seam on top of the vamp
- unlike mocs, it has a separate sole
- has low heels
A Slipper is:
- like the loafer, it has an exposed ankle
- NO lacing
- NO seam on top
A loafer has Norwegian origins. A Norwegian actually went to the US and saw the native american moccasins, brought them back to Norway, modified them slightly, added a separate sole and that's how the loafer was created. In general, Loafers are casual shoes because they're slip on and as such they're usually not worn with double breasted suits or more formal garments.
The Duke of Windsor broke these classic rules of style and he would often wear a two-tone loafer in brown and white or off-white that he would wear with double breasted suits so by traditional style rules, this was completely wrong but he was so powerful and impactful that today, you can see people wearing loafers with different kinds of suits and double breasted suits.
When it comes to loafer construction, most of the time you will see that it has a very thin sole, it's much thinner than a sole that you would see with a Goodyear welt shoe, that means they're usually Blake rapid stitched or just glued. If you have to walk a lot, definitely go with Goodyear welted loafers otherwise, Blake rapid stitched loafers are fine or blake stitched. Glued, I would probably personally say to stay away from it simply because it's usually an indicator of lower quality.
- Wildsmith loafer (British invention)
- Aurland Loafer - it is a town in Norway which was home to Nicoli Gregori who's the one who invented this Norwegian loafer style in the 40s and the 50s.
- Tassel Loafer - features these dangling tassels. It has a very long last, it's flat and elegant. The original tassel loafer was invented by the Alden shoe company.
- Penny Loafer - invented by G.H Bass in the US and it was really popular with people from the Ivy league who put pennies in this diamond shape just to stand out from the crowd. Particularly popular sometimes in cordovan leather or like a red color, you can also find it in suede. It comes in all shades of brown, sometimes spectators and it's just a really great casual shoe that people like to wear after work, maybe to resort towns, to more casual dinners, it's also very popular during the summer.
- Gucci Loafer - has these characteristic horsebits on top and usually come in gold or in silver and they became so popular in the US. You can certainly consider adding it to your shoe closet because it's a timeless style and you should be able to wear it in 20 years from now and still look very classic and timeless.
In terms of formality, loafers are overall more casual but I would rank the Tassel loafer slightly higher than the Penny loafer, Of course that is impacted by the choice of leather. A black penny loafer is more formal than a yellow, suede tassel loafer but given that colors and leather are equal, I would classify the penny loafer as slightly less formal. Nevertheless, it can be business appropriate, I think it looks great for example, with a chino-blazer combination.
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